I grew up in California and we had early morning church classes called seminary to attend. I am not an early morning person and rarely attended the classes. Since I didn’t go very often I didn’t graduate from seminary. Not only that but I was so busy with classes and life while in college, I didn’t make reading my scriptures and studying the gospel the priority it should have been. I did have religion classes and did the course work but it wasn’t a whole-hearted effort. Then of course I found out what busy really was as a mother with lots of children. I rarely found time to read and study the scriptures unless I had a class to teach at church. Unfortunately I didn’t really start studying the scriptures and the gospel until I was in my early 40’s. I still had lots of children to care for and migraines to deal with so what made the difference? I had a dear friend who loved the scriptures. She loved to study the words of the prophets and ponder on the meanings of them. She thoroughly enjoyed exploring the scriptures and the doctrines of the gospel, and she took great joy in them! She demonstrated a zest and love for the gospel and I wanted to have the same love and feelings for the scriptures that she did. I wanted to be able to apply the teaching of the scriptures to my life too. I wanted to have the scriptural knowledge that she had. She inspired me and so I began a journey into gospel learning that has greatly blessed and influenced my life for good. In the last 20 years, as I have studied the scriptures and the words of the prophets, my knowledge and gospel confidence has increased greatly. As I have applied the teachings of the gospel in my life I have been greatly enriched. Her example influenced me and created a yearning in my heart to truly love the scriptures.
Recently there have been changes in church procedures announced. We now have before us in the church a refocus on home centered gospel teaching, supported by teaching in classes at church. Lately during church classes I have listened to many women express their concerns about being able to adequately teach their children the gospel in their homes. They feel pressure to help their children learn the scriptures and gospel doctrines, and help them acquire testimonies. Even though I no longer have young children in my home I remember the same feelings and the urgency I felt at helping my children to know the scriptures. Because of that we made sure we did family scriptures and prayer nightly, and Family Home Evening weekly. We always had the mechanics of it in place but sometimes I treated it as an ordeal to get through rather than a joyful thing. I spent too much time trying to endure the process of reading the scriptures with my children rather than just enjoying the time learning together. Now I can see that if I had transmitted my love for the scriptures and gospel learning as a joyful blessing instead of an ordeal that perhaps my children would have sensed my love for the scriptures and wanted that same love for them in their lives. Treating scripture time as an opportunity and joyful thing would have taught just as much as the actual reading of them. It would have taught that scriptures are a thing to be treasured and that reading them brings joy into your lives. If I had any advice for parents who are concerned about the refocus on home centered learning it would be to love the scriptures yourself and just enjoy the learning and teaching time with your family. Your children will see the blessings in your life from scripture study and gospel learning and want the same blessings in their lives, even though it may not be until they are a little older.
I think of my friend and her influence on me and how I wanted the same experiences she had, I wanted to love the scriptures like she did. Her example changed my life forever.
Many years ago my husband was driving down a street in our community in his pickup truck towing a heavy load. As he was driving along he had the words come strongly to him “Stop Now!” and so he slammed on his brakes. Just then 2 little girls on bikes came racing out into the road, rounded the corner and obliviously pedaled away. He told me that if he had not listened there was no way he could have stopped in time with the heavy load he was towing, and he was sure he would have run over those little girls. He was very emotional and upset while telling me of this incident. The little girls on the bikes however were totally unaware that their lives had been in danger. They rode off having fun together and went home to parents who were also unaware that their daughters had been in grave danger. I have thought about this a lot over the years. Those girls probably had parents who prayed for their children’s safety each day and didn’t know that on this particular day their prayers had been amazingly answered. I also pray for my children every day. I pray for the blessings they need, for their safety, for their happiness. Because of this situation I have wondered how many times my prayers have been answered without me being aware of it. I have wondered how many times my children have been watched over and cared for without my knowledge. And from this I can suppose that there are other ways my prayers are answered too that I am oblivious about. Perhaps part of having faith is trusting that God will answer my prayers whether I know it or not, and knowing that my prayers are not always answered the way I want. My faith is strengthened through prayer and receiving my Father Heaven’s help, not always in the way or time I expect it. As I have gotten older I have come to depend more on prayer and realize more of it’s importance. This Thanksgiving Season I am particularly grateful for the opportunity I have to pray to a loving Heavenly Father and to know He hears and answers my prayers, even when I am unaware of it. I am grateful to feel the power of prayer in my life and to have the source of strength and comfort it offers. I am thankful for prayer.
Last week I wrote about migraines and how they have plagued my life for over 40 years. I also wrote about a 6 year time frame where I had migraines almost every day, most of them excruciating and so bad I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep on living. Several months into this time frame I had an experience that helped me cope a little more with the situation. It didn’t help with the pain or lessen it but it did give me a new perspective. I had a migraine and was sitting in church at a funeral of a neighbor, and the speaker was talking about the scripture of how God has told us He will not leave us comfortless during our hard times. I felt so forsaken as I sat there in great pain. I was silently crying to myself and thought “You have left me comfortless.” Immediately I had the thought come to my mind “I blessed you with a love for church music to help you through this time.” I thought of how I have always loved to sing church hymns. Even as a little girl I would go around the house singing them as loudly as I could. I walked home from school every day singing Primary songs. I joined the Ward Choir when I was 12 and was a dedicated member until I left for college where I also joined the choirs of the various wards I was in. As a teenager when I was bored in church I would read the words of the hymns and sing the songs in my mind. The words somehow filled me with comfort and peace as well as teaching me doctrine, and they sank deeply into my soul. By doing this I ended up memorizing many of the hymns. When I had severe migraines I would lie in bed or sit in the hot water of a shower and sing the hymns that I had inadvertently memorized. Sometimes when it hurt too much to sing out loud I would sing the words in my mind. I felt comfort and my Heavenly Father’s love as I focused on the words and music of the songs. At this funeral when I had this thought about being blessed with a love for church music I instantly felt humbled and chastened. It taught me that for some reason that this was part of my Heavenly Father’s plan for me. It also taught me that He knew me and knew about my pain and the hardship I was enduring. It taught me that He had prepared and strengthened me to be able to endure this affliction. It also taught me to look for the ways my Heavenly Father has quietly blessed my life to deal with the difficulties and challenges that I personally face.
I have been struggling this week with migraines which is why I haven’t posted something sooner. This plague has been part of my life for over 40 years. Sometimes I wonder how I have survived them so long because some of them have been so horrendous, that when I was in the midst of them I didn’t want to be alive anymore. I have been to every kind of doctor to try to rid myself of this affliction, tried every kind of treatment and have prayed with faith and desperation. Yet, I still have them. After many prayers in which I pleaded for understanding, I received an answer as to why I have this terrible trial in my life. The answer that came was so that I would need God. The answer was humbling and yet unsatisfactory. Wasn’t there some other way? In fact it seemed like there were many other ways in which I needed my Father in Heaven. I have many children with difficult challenges which I prayed and worried about. We’ve had financial challenges through the years and just normal life situations. All through these I have prayed fervently for help. I also try to be diligent in scripture reading and saying my prayers and fulfilling my callings. It seems to me I try really hard to be a good person and yet, I still have these awful migraines. No matter what I do, lurking in the background is the fear that I will have a migraine and spoil yet another family outing or that I won’t be able to measure up in some way. I absolutely hate that these control my life. One particularly dark time started when my youngest child was almost 2 and my oldest was 17. For the next 6 years I had severe migraines every day and I lived in survival mode. It was during this time I sought every doctor and treatment I could find and nothing helped. I thought about dying because I thought that if my life offered me nothing but pain in the future, what was there to live for. I thought about dying because I wasn’t useful to anyone. I thought about dying because I hurt so much that I was existing and not really living.
Migraines obviously affected my family as well as myself. Sometimes I would lie in bed knowing I children who needed me, a household to run and a life to live. I wanted to be able to volunteer at my children’s schools and I wanted to fulfill church responsibilities. I wanted to be reliable and I wanted to be free of pain. I really wanted most of all to be a good wife and mother, and I couldn’t do any of these things. Most days I was lucky if I could do some laundry and put something in the crock pot so my family would have dinner. During those 6 years, and in subsequent years I did learn many things to help me get through those dark days. In future posts I will write some of the things I found helpful. Maybe they will be helpful to you too as you deal with whatever is painful in your life.